Coghlan Remains a Mystery

There’s no denying that Chris Coghlan produced in his rookie year for the Marlins. He posted a .321/.390/.460 line that took him straight to the top of the NL Rookie of the Year ballot. However, the sustainability of this kind of performance wasn’t obvious by any means. Coghlan was helped out by a .365 BABIP. With an average performance on balls in play, Coghlan’s wOBA likely falls near the league average, which is a poor mark for a below average defensive left fielder, as Coghlan appears to be. That lead to a few doubts about Coghlan’s performance this year, although the projection systems still saw him as an above average hitter. CHONE projected a .357 wOBA while ZiPS was less optimistic at .345.

The pessimistic types looked to be vindicated at the beginning of the season. Coghlan had an atrocious April, posting a .195 batting average without a single extra base hit. He wasn’t walking either; at month’s end, Coghlan’s wRC+ was 26 through 88 plate appearances. Things picked up in May, but not to the point where his hitting could be called productive. Coghlan’s May line very much looked like a possibility for what to expect from him – with a .296 BABIP and 7.1% BB%, Coghlan posted a .262/.304/.369 triple slash line. His strikeouts were up and the walks were slightly down from his rookie season, but this looked dangerously close to what we might expect out of a Chris Coghlan who couldn’t post a .360 BABIP.

Of course, much can happen in a month. Something great happened to Coghlan, as he made major league pitchers look silly for all of June. Coghlan posted a 200 wRC+. Naturally, Coghlan’s success came on the heels of an equally ridiculous .468 BABIP. Still, there were encouraging signs apart from the success on balls in play. Coghlan’s walk rate was up to 12.2% after sitting below 8% the whole season. His power also started to materialize, as he posted a .264 ISO – likely aided by the BABIP, but still encouraging, given his struggles with extra base hits.

Coghlan’s line to date is now .282/.348/.419, which is below what he produced last season, but a .343 wOBA is serviceable for a left fielder. His BABIP for the season now sits at .352. He’s been a little worse this season due to more strikeouts and the lower BABIP, but he’s still a good major league hitter and the reason is still a high BABIP. The longer Coghlan can keep up this high BABIP, the more confidence we can have in projecting a high BABIP for the future, but at this point, we just never know if we’re going to get the April Coghlan, the May Coghlan, or the June Coghlan, or something inbetween. Simply put, Chris Coghlan is still a very mysterious player.

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7 Responses to “Coghlan Remains a Mystery”

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  1. fothead says:

    If he keeps up his high LD% and low GB%, with decent speed, his high BABIP seem sustainable. He had high BABIP all throughout his minor league career as well.

    Agreed he’s nothing great, but certainly a passable starting LF at worst, but he could get much better if as he matures he gets a little more loft on the ball. He obviously can hit the ball hard.

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  2. ms says:

    coghlan seems sort of similar to a Cards/Dodgers player from the 50’s & 60’s, Wally Moon. Check out the similarities in their rookie seasons, age in rookie seasons, physical build and I believe (could be wrong, belief based entirely on my dad’s memory) Moon was converted from the middle infield to outfield as well. They appear to be comparable players.

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    • Carligula says:

      Interesting. Moon was famous for having an ‘inside-out’ swing (I think meaning his power was to the opposite field). I’ve never seen Coghlan play, is the the same?

      B-R lists Moon as an outfielder throughout his minors career (but he’s only listed as starting at 20, when, assuming he was signed out of HS, he would have been in the system earlier. So he may have been switched before then.

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  3. Michael says:

    He’s definitely had better plate discipline than he showed earlier this season, so I don’t think it’s a fair assessment to say that May looked like what he would look like all year.Still, I agree with the general principle.

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  4. Bobby Mueller says:

    According to the xBABIP Quick Calculator, Coghlan’s expected BABIP is .347.

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  5. Brandon says:

    Yeah, I was just gonna say, only PITCHERS have a BABIP of about 0.300. Many batters have very different career marks, with slow high-fly-ball-rate sluggers generally having low BABIP while fast grounder/line drive hitters have much higher.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      A .360 mark is still well out of range and one that only very few hitters have sustained over a long period of time. 1 1/2 seasons certainly is not enough for us to say that Coghlan is one of those players.

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